Ask UbuntuWhat are the most useful programs installed after setup of a vanilla Ubuntu?
[+54] [56] Sudhanshu
[2010-08-05 19:12:31]
[ installation packages ]

For me some of the following are a must have after I have installed Ubuntu.

Please add links. and a note if the program isn't free (as in freedom)

Update: Collecting all the packages listed below in the answers

inkscape [1] - vector based illustration tool
picasa [2] - photo management (non-free)
Gimp [3] - Raster based image editor
Alchemy [4] - Funky little illustration tool
pinta - Paint program
ktoon - 2D animation tool
Dia - Draw diagrams
Fontforge [5] - font editor

Office Tools
scribus [6] - desktop publishing
Lyx - word-processor
Abiword - word processor
syncevolution - contacts * calendar syncing.

guayadeque - music player with auto-playlists using
vlc [7] - movie player
XBMC [8] - media management
Exaile - media player
banshee - media player with ipod/android device support
spotify - needs wine. Internet media player (non-free)
foobnix - music player
clementine - music player based off Amarok
radio tray - applet to listen to online radio
bad/ugly gstreamer plugins
mplayer [9] - media player
pithos - gnome applet for Pandora
pianobar - command line player for Pandora

rapidSVN - GUI for subversion
ruby - scripting, fun!
python - scripting
subversion - version control
cscope - code browsing
ctags - code browsing
vim [10] - my primary code editor
emacs - editor for some more nice tricks
ack - replacement for grep
geany - code editor
git - SCM
lamp-server - dev environment
build-essentials - Not worth compiling from source without this
rpm build - build rpms
MySQL Workbench
Meld - Diff & Merge
Eclipse/Eclipse CDL - IDE
Code::Blocks - C++ IDE
Eric Python - Python IDE
smartsvn - subversion GUI frontend
netbeans - IDE
Qt designer - Designs GUIs using Qt
xCHM - Reads CHM help files.
Meld Diff Viewer - Compares differences in files
Gedit Plugins - Makes Gedit a great,stable programmer's editor

elinks - text based browsing
vpnc - connect to office over VPN
google chrome - web browser (non-free)
chromium - Web browser, free version of chrome
midori - web browser
pidgin [11] - messenger/IRC client
multiget - download manager
filezilla - download manager
deluge [12] - bittorent client - client for website
skype - voice chat (non-free)
putty - terminal client
opera - web browser (non-free)
thunderbird - email client
epiphany - email client
zimbra desktop - email client
dropbox - free online storage and sync across desktop (non-free)
adobe air - internet application framework (non-free)
checkgmail - mail notification
davmail gateway - connect to MS Exchange using clients like thunderbird
Google Earth (non-free)
wireshark [13] - network analysis tool
kismet - wireless analysis tool
gpodder [14] - podcast downloader
gbittorrent - torrent client
GmailWatcher - notifications for gmail

Firefox plugins
vimperator - vim like shortcuts for firefox
tab mix plus - additional tab commands
colorful tabs - makes it easy to identify related tabs
fox clocks - world time
download statusbar - downloads in status bar
xmarks - sync bookmarks across PCs and browsers
ad block plus - block ads in web pages

gnome-do - shortcuts for everything in ubuntu
docky - frontend for gnome-do
getting things gnome - task manager

System Configuration
Ubuntu tweak - install packages using this
Ubuntu restricted extras - restricted packages for ubuntu (non-free)

System Tools
wine - windows emulator
virtualbox - OS virtualization
remmina - remote desktop client
crash plan - system backup (local/online, personal/commercial)
burg - boot loader based off GRUB
htop - system resources viewer
AWN - Avant Window Manager
truecrypt - encryption
synergy - Share mouse & keyboard with another PC
ailurus - tweak Ubuntu for newcomers
unetbootin - create bootable USB drives
Bootup Manager - manage boot scripts and services

screenlets - desktop plugins
terminator - terminal client supporting split windows
caffeine - prevent screensavers and sleep mode
easystroke - gesture recognition application
zotero - collect, manage, cite and share research sources online
byobu - makes GNU screen more useful
keepassx - password management
screen - keep sessions alive
guake - terminal
work rave - prevent RSI, take breaks
mousepad - an editor that loads faster than Gedit

A lot more of these are listed on one of my older blog post [15], however I am only listing the most frequently used ones here. What works for you? Please list the name and category for the program, as well as what you use it for. I have made this a community wiki.

(6) Props for community wiki! - Marco Ceppi
(1) What on earth is Alchemy? I can't find it in the repositories and a google search is turning up nothing! Did you misspell the name? I'd really like to know, because I could use a new illustration tool! - Daniel Bingham
Try this website - Tommy Brunn added that. Looks like a very nice tool. - Sudhanshu
Do Firefox plugins really deserve their own section here? - Casebash
Spotify doesn't need Wine, there is a native version, see - Lars Haugseth
@Casebash: Maybe we can move that section to a separate question. There really are a lot of useful ones out there. Although the question is not Ubuntu-specific, I don't know any other good place to take that question. - Sudhanshu
@Lars Haugseth: That page says - "this version is only available to Spotify Premium subscribers." I'd keep wine around if that was so. :) - Sudhanshu
@Sudhanshu: SuperUser accepts Firefox plugin questions - Casebash
(2) @Casebash: Ok looks like we already have such a question on Superuser. Here's the link: - Sudhanshu
I would like to see a ubuntu build disc with all of this ready to go out of the box! - Chris
xmarks - you should remove this - because xmarks the will close their service (maybe) - aatdark
What are applications that are installed by default (screen, byobu, python, vim) doing in this list? - JanC
[+10] [2010-08-05 19:25:39] Marco Ceppi


geany - My code editor of choice

git - My SCM of choice

lamp-server - My dev environment of choice

build-essential - Not worth compiling from source without this

rpm build - yes I build RPMs on my Ubuntu Installs from time to time.

MySQL Workbench - Love this tool




Google Chrome


Cisco VPN Client

That's basically the Jist of it.

Just found out about Midori. It looks very young, although very light-weight and fast. Might give it a whirl sometime. - Sudhanshu
I used Midori back in 9.x ages (When it was even younger) because Firefox was less than reliable and I hated loosing my Nagios window every time firefox died. Pinned up Midori on my second monitor and loved the simplicity and speed of it. She's really getting on good now and development is promising! - Marco Ceppi
[+10] [2010-08-06 07:59:18] ricky


  • VLC


  • Gimp

  • Shutter (Screenshot tool)


  • Chromium

  • Filezilla

  • Pino (Twitter client, I don't like Gwibber)


  • Restricted Extras

  • Ubuntu Tweak

  • Virtualbox


  • Eclipse

[+7] [2010-08-06 16:02:55] rschuler

KeePassX -- password keeper, use it on every system I touch (KeePass for windows boxes)

CrashPlan [1] -- Backups are good. Online + local + offsite backups are better.


+1 for crashplan - Sudhanshu
[+6] [2010-08-05 21:43:40] Dave Child

Dropbox, Docky, Filezilla, EasyStroke, Deluge, Banshee,, Skype, PuTTY, Opera and Caffeine.

Much of my config stuff is stored in dropbox too, so I always drop that in first.

(2) +1 for docky, easystroke, caffeine - Sudhanshu
(1) +1 for easystroke - Li Lo
(3) Putty? Why would you need that? - The Pixel Developer
[+6] [2010-08-06 06:17:23] Pseudoremora


Htop -- Interactive process viewer

GNU Screen or Byobu -- Allows for virtual terminals

AWN (Avant Window Manger) -- My personal choice over Docky/Cairo


Clementine -- Very nice Music player based off of Amarok

Radio Tray -- The name says it all



That's all I got for now.

+1 for Clementine - LFC_fan
+1 for screen.. - David Oneill
[+6] [2010-08-08 03:07:36] Erigami

What? Nobody's mentioned Guake [1]? Unpossible!

Guake is fantastic - it's like a normal terminal, except that you bind a key (such as F12) to show/hide it. It lives at the top of your X display and has the same content across all desktops. With snazzy transparency and configurable key bindings it has changed how I use terminals.


You can live with just one terminal? - Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen
It has tabs. I usually have about four open. But I'm a GUI dev now, so I spend less time there than I used to. - Erigami
[+6] [2010-08-08 17:10:00] Tom Savage


Allows you to open a terminal window at any arbitrary point in the filesystem.

sudo aptitude install nautilus-open-terminal

I think that comes standard with Linux Mint 9 (and maybe Ubuntu 10) because I never had to install the plugin to get it. - Evan Plaice
@Evan Plaice: Never tried Mint but it did not come on Ubuntu - Tom Savage
[+5] [2010-08-08 20:36:20] Nathan Osman

I am completely amazed by Synergy [1].

I highly recommend installing that if you have another PC close by.


(1) Thanks! You solved one of my problems. :) - Sudhanshu
+1. I'd upvote more if I could. I love this program - David Oneill
[+4] [2010-08-05 19:28:22] David Barry


XBMC [1]

Organizes all of my Shows/Movies into an easy to use, very nice looking library. I don't know how I would watch videos now without it.


Looks very promising. Can this stream music to iTunes over the network? My wife works on a Mac and this would come quite handy for her if it can stream over the network to other iTunes players. - Sudhanshu
I don't think XBMC has anything like this integrated. You could probably setup an iTunes compatible share in ubuntu on whatever music folders you set XBMC to watch however. - David Barry
[+4] [2010-08-05 19:33:05] Mashimom

Ubuntu Tweak (followed by lots of repos and apps I get from it)
restricted extras
LAMP server

[+4] [2010-08-05 22:21:50] drHouse


Google Chrome
Deluge (Torrent Client)


Eric Phyton


Vlc player
gtk - RecordMyDesktop




Gnome Do
Virtual Box
Wine -> Because some people just don't get it!

[+4] [2010-08-05 23:26:13] prule

I use Remmina to remote control my parents Ubuntu - Remmina has a nice GUI that allows me specify the number of colors, which is important because my parents are in a different country and using more than 256 colors means the performance is terrible. Out of all the remote control clients I tried, Remmina was the only one that put the color option right in my face (didn't have to read a manual).

very promising! - Sudhanshu
Remmina is the best remote desktop clients out there with its support for a host of protocols and options. It's chosen to be the default for the 12.04 LTS. - Hippo
[+4] [2010-08-05 23:38:05] community_owned

Development: Eclipse, Eclipse CDL (for C++), Python

Entertainment: Ubuntu-Restricted-Extras, VLC, Exaile

Graphics: KToon, Scribus

Business: Zimbra Desktop

Internet: Pidgin

+1 for Zimbra desktop - I desperately need a good email client. Have been planning to switch to mutt, but looks like this one is worth a try. - Sudhanshu
[+3] [2010-08-05 21:27:00] Ivanka

Thunderbird for my email

Pidgin for chat and irc



Wine, then Spotify

[+3] [2010-08-06 00:21:35] Salimane Adjao Moustapha

checkgmail, adobe air, terminator, pinta, multiget, netbeans, smartsvn,

+1 for smartsvn - Sudhanshu
[+3] [2010-08-06 11:54:09] Ciarán

Dropbox; Truecrypt; Zotero (which requires installing Sun Java at the mo); Gnome-Do; Davmail; GIMP.

+1 for davmail, zotero - Sudhanshu
Another +1 for Zotero! Love it. Too bad about the Sun Java, tho. - eugenemarshall
[+3] [2010-08-07 22:42:07] themuddler


For keeping my laptops in sync with my desktop at home over SSH.

[+3] [2010-08-10 18:28:37] mxhernaiz

Miro ( I don't think anyone else has mentioned it, but I love it to watch all kinds of media files, subscribe to audio/video podcasts, download torrents and content off YouTube. It's also available for other platforms (Win, Mac) so it's one of those pieces of software that you can suggest to non-Linux users.

[+3] [2010-09-01 10:38:03] sBlatt

I'd also add boxee (, in my opinion the best Media Center software available.
And I like joe (text editor).

Oh, and don't forget the StackApplet ;) (

+1 for Boxee. I originally left out boxee because I couldn't play video streams in Linux. After the last Adobe Flash update, it works now. Boxee is the greatest. - Evan Plaice
[+2] [2010-08-05 20:00:29] jathanism

Pidgin [1].

Because it's the best open source multi-service IM client for Linux in my opinion.


[+2] [2010-08-06 10:46:48] Newky

I know this doesnt fall under the category of applications persay,

But how about bash functions and aliases,

They always the first thing I set up...

aliases to ssh to servers etc...

A terminal working to my liking is what I need from the off

I think a question acting as a repository of the most useful general interest scripts might be another worthy CW post. - Mark Peters
[+2] [2010-08-07 09:15:52] Source Lab
  • Productivity
    • vim-nox - Best editor ever!
    • screen - Keep the terminal open even if you loose connection.
    • syncevolution - contacts+calender syncing
    • inkscape - vector graphics editor
    • gimp - bitmap editor
    • fontforge - font editor
    • dropbox - files in the cloud
    • wireshark - Network analysis tool
    • kismet - Wireless analysis tool
  • Entertainment
    • Flash + Flash blocker plug-in
    • mplayer-nox - cli mediaplayer
    • gpodder - podcast downloader
    • ubuntu-restricted-extras - codecs

[+2] [2010-09-09 23:00:56] Evan Plaice

Here's Mine:


  • Chrome
  • Firefox (Used rarely as a backup)
  • Transmission (Easy, simple torrent client)
  • Dropbox


  • GIMP
  • Dia


  • Arduino (For programming microcontrollers)
  • MonoDevelop (C# development)
  • gedit with the gedit-plugins pack (disabling the file browser pane makes gedit the lightest snappiest text editor I've used yet, the plugins make it great for coding)
  • Wireshark (I do some low level network programming stuff)


  • Calculator
  • Dictionary
  • Cairo Dock

Note: uTorrent is coming to linux. So far they only have a command line interface but they're working on the GUI. Once it is released with the GUI I'll be switching to that for my torrent needs.

You get a +1 for arduino. - e.m.fields
[+1] [2010-08-08 04:47:16] Ethan

Gotta get Pithos if you're a Pandora Internet Radio lover. Unlimited song skips + GUI with no flash!

Should look into F.lux. Articles can explain it better than I can.

This is my favorite reply. It led me to pianobar the CLI player for Pandora. I live in the CLI. - Sudhanshu… Extra article on desktop lighting. - Ethan
Re: F.lux -- look into redshift and redshift-gui too. While you're looking into f.lux be aware that someone did a linux GUI for it. - Li Lo
Thank you for recommending Pithos. Pandora's mix is INFINITELY BETTER than Last.FM. Boo hiss at LastFM! - e.m.fields
[+1] [2010-08-23 11:33:03] Alin Andrei

Here is what I use on my Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04. Before being able to add/remove applets from the Gnome Panel, you'll need this fix [1].


DockBarX - to replace the crappy window picker applet that comes with UNE. DockBarX is an amazing window switcher applet which works with the Gnome Panel and AWN, supports themes, window previews and much more (think of the Windows 7 taskbar) (PPA:

Window Applets - also required to replace the window picker applet, Window Applets allows you to place the minimize, maximize and close buttons wherever you want on the GNOME panel. (PPA:

Global Menu - for removing the menu from the application windows and placing it on the top panel (window title included) - more screen real-estate. (PPA:

GnoMenu - if you want to use a normal menu in the Ubuntu Netbook Edition, I suggest GnoMenu [2] with the BlueSmall [3] theme - you'll get a tiny menu, perfect for small screens. Alternatively, you can also try Cardapio [4].


Chromium - there's nothing like Chromium on a netbook, amazing speed and also great for gaining a few pixels in screen height. (Install it from the official repositories or for the latest bleeding edge version:


Zoho Webservice - online office suite that works in your browser (install: sudo apt-get install webservice-office-zoho)


Deadbeef amazing lightweight ye powerful music player (PPA:

Gnome Media Player - it can play anything and you can use different engines if you don't like how one is behaving. It supports the VLC, Xine and Gstreamer engines. (PPA:

Minitube - Youtube without Flash. (PPA:

System tools

There are 2 great tools for getting the most out of the netbook battery life:

Jupiter [5] - can be used to switch between maximum and high performance and power saving mode, change the resolution and orientation, enable or disable the bluetooth, touchpad, WiFi and so on. But most importantly it allows your Eeepc netbook to take advantage of SHE (Super Hybrid Engine). (PPA:

Battery Status [6] - shows information about laptop battery state. It comes with a lot of additional features as compared to Gnome Power Manager, so usual icon of GNOME Power Manager can be removed from Notification/Indicator Area. (PPA:

Powertop - a must to get even more battery life (install: sudo apt-get install powertop )


Nautilus Elementary can be tweaked to get a lot more screen real-estate and unclutter the default Nautilus. (PPA:

Syndaemon - an utility which automatically disables the touchpad while typing. Start it with: syndaemon -i 4 -d (or use "man syndaemon" to see how to tweak it).


[+1] [2010-08-23 14:09:39] Takilian Rueshin

NVClock [1] (NVClock is a small utility that allows users to overclock NVIDIA based video cards running on the Linux platform)


[+1] [2010-08-24 00:41:43] Daniel

Chromium/Chrome, GIMP, Python, Subversion, Skype, a Gmail Notifier thinger, VLC, Eclipse...

And compiz config, of course.

I'm missing a few. I still have to get my hands on a few things. And I still have to work on that neverending search to find a good music player. And put together just the right development environment. Ugh, I miss Dreamweaver. And Windows. You know, just for the software--it really is a lame operating system compared to Ubuntu.

[+1] [2010-09-29 05:26:17] e.m.fields


Bluefish Editor [1]

Sure beats the pants off of writing code with a text editor, no matter how many plugins you stack on top of it.

If someone has something better than this, please by all means correct me - I just discovered this today, and can't believe I've been doing HTML/PHP without it.


[0] [2010-08-05 20:46:18] Mark Peters

General Interest
Google Earth [1] - They actually make a reasonable binary for Linux.

Wine [2] - Because some companies just haven't learned yet... (Is wine stock now? It's been a while since I installed Ubuntu from scratch)


No Wine is not stock with Ubuntu - mores the pity :) - Nikhil
[0] [2010-08-06 00:25:58] smichaud

Google Chrome, Pidgin, VLC, Eclipse

The rest depends on what I need to do when I install a new version (on one of my computer it's about once every three months, just to test distributions).

[0] [2010-08-06 06:06:12] Nathan Osman
  • Google Chrome
  • Qt Designer
  • Bad / Ugly gstreamer plugins
  • Gimp
  • Wine
  • g++
  • PowerPad

[0] [2010-08-06 13:47:01] hasenj

git, docky, gnome-do, vim-gnome,

and of course

ubuntu-restricted-extras ;)

[0] [2010-08-06 13:47:15] community_owned

Foobnix media player! ( [1]) Because it's the best player :)


[0] [2010-08-06 15:39:08] topyli

Accessories: KeePassX

Graphics: Dia

Internet: Epiphany

Office: Abiword, LyX (remove openoffice)

Multimedia: VLC (remove totem)

[0] [2010-08-08 10:50:18] Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen

Sun Java + Eclipse.

But again, thats for a living.

[0] [2010-08-08 18:47:58] lukasz
  1. build-essential
  2. codelite [1]

I love programming ;)


[0] [2010-08-09 05:16:28] robotstevejobs

My first install is always the awesome window manager.

[0] [2010-08-09 13:42:47] Erigami

Work Rave [1] is also helpful to those of us who have typing-related injuries. It helps prevent repetitive strain injuries (eg, carpal tunnel), by forcing the user to take short breaks every now and then.


[0] [2010-08-09 15:58:44] Scaine

For video conversion/ripping: Handbrake-gtk, but you have to add the repository for it first. (or sudo add-apt-repository ppa:handbrake-ubuntu/ppa)

Excellent GUI based tool for converting/scaling videos for Android, Sony PSP, or others. It can also rip DVD's.

[0] [2010-08-20 08:53:48] Alin Andrei

All the apps that come with Pinguy [1] or Manhattan OS [2]. They are like Ubuntu after a week of customizations.


[0] [2010-08-20 15:52:19] Owais Lone

Since everything is covered, I'll add my own app, GmailWatcher [1] to it. ppa:loneowais/ppa


[0] [2010-08-20 15:54:29] Owais Lone


Quickly: Awesome for Ubuntu app development.

[0] [2010-08-20 16:10:53] sagarchalise

Adding to the list: geany ailurus planner qbittorrent BootUp-Manager UNetBootin

what is unetbootin? - e.m.fields
* sorry, I should probably google * - e.m.fields
[0] [2010-08-22 20:53:57] Gersitar

Media-Openshot: really easy to use video/effects editor

Accessories-Redshift: pretty good if you spend a lot of time in front of the monitor.

Programming-Medit: similar to gedit

[0] [2010-08-22 21:23:13] gamerchick02

I didn't notice either Smuxi or Xchat. Both are IRC clients and both are really good at what they do. Both are in the repos.

[0] [2010-08-23 04:38:10] aperson

Furius Iso Mount [1], Viewnior [2] (replaces eog), bpython [3], pino [4] (twitter client), xchat [5] (irc client), and Pithos [6] (pandora with support) are all things that I find handy to have around. Also, it's great to have nautilus-elementary [7] to customize nautilus.


[0] [2010-08-23 14:04:46] Takilian Rueshin

Stardict [1] (StarDict is a Cross-Platform and international dictionary Software)


[0] [2010-08-23 22:08:13] stone1343

Unfortunately, this question doesn't really utilize this answer format very effectively, but here's my list

cryptsetup - use encrypted drives ttf-inconsolata - best monospaced font IMO ubuntu-restricted-extras nautilus-open-terminal - explained above kupfer - launcher parcellite - clipboard manager radiotray - internet radio ntp - atomic clock sync desktop-webmail - integrating with gmail p7zip-full - 7-zip

[0] [2010-08-23 22:27:38] jjesse

Dropbox first and foremost

Then since I run Kubuntu:

choqoK -- mircoblogiing (Twitter,, Facebook)

Blogilo -- Offline blog editing and creating

Chrome -- best web browser for me, still beats Firefox, Konqueror, reqonK, konquerorr

bzr -- to work on kubuntu-docs and other documents

Sure I am missing others

[0] [2010-08-24 21:12:34] Attila Csipak


ghhumb - A bit more slick than the distro-default Eye of Gnome, which is really just a bare minimum for image viewing.


gnome-commander [1] - I always preferred the two-panel Norton Commander-alike file managers (Total Commander in Win, Midnight Commander in terminal etc.) against Windows Explorer-clones.

Firefox plugins

NoScript - For some added security and control.


[0] [2010-09-04 22:35:15] Rick H

I see a lot of people here are giving the thumbs up for Gnome Do. Indeed, it's a nice program.

Personally, I've had problems with it though, and while searching for a replacement, found Kupfer. It's not as pretty as Gnome Do, but once I wrapped my head around the differences in the way it works, I'm much more productive with it.

I highly recommend Kupfer [1].



[0] [2010-09-12 13:56:29] Ingo


Kile - LaTeX Editor
TeXLive-full - gives you all LaTeX packages there possibly are
KBibTeX - BibTeX editor

[0] [2010-09-12 23:53:21] Joel

Zim Desktop Wiki [1] ( sudo apt-get install zim [2]): I use it for taking notes. But there are a lot of things you can do with it.

[2] http://apt://zim

[0] [2010-09-13 13:06:19] Takilian Rueshin

Avidemux - [1]Avidemux is a free video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks.


[0] [2010-09-29 05:21:46] e.m.fields

I won't add so many of the things here that are already covered, but ... Seriously? Irssi, anyone?

Irssi is the geek's choice IRC client. (In my humble.)

[0] [2010-10-20 15:56:16] Stefano Palazzo


  • Devhelp (a viewer for programming documentation, very nice when there's no/slow internet)
  • Quickly (even if it's just to make bzr a bit more rapid)


  • Abiword (not so great for enterprisy things, but perfect to print a great looking letter)
  • Gnumeric (Spreadsheet that's fantastic for statistical calculations)


  • Genius (Rather excellent maths environment, does great plots)


  • Pychess (AI and Networked chess, look very unobtrusive)